I love the holiday season. It’s my favorite time of year.

Although it’s a bit late, I’ll start with Thanksgiving. There’s nothing like gathering around a feast with family to remember all that you’re thankful for.

For me, that includes, first and foremost, my family. They have been there for me through thick and thin, and I hope they would say the same about me. My husband has a love for me that I could only dream of in my teen years, and for that, I am blessed.

My dad and my siblings (and their spouses) are all special people. We’ve been through a lot together, but we still know how to have a good time, lovingly tease each other, and have some epic Uno battles.

My children are my rock. Although I didn’t give birth to the oldest, I think of him as mine. He is now out on his own and is employed at his first full-time job. I’m proud of the caring, thoughtful man he’s become. His first instinct when my dad asked him what he wanted for Christmas was to tell Grandpa to use the money on his brother instead. He’s talking about visiting in a couple of weeks, and I can’t wait to see him.

My younger one is my world. He is smart, witty and caring. When I’m ill, he does what he can to take care of me or writes me sweet little notes. When Stark fell ill and passed in February, he refused to leave the dog’s side and did his best to care for him. After I thanked him for that, he looked at me and said, “That’s why I want to be a vet, Mom. I want to help families keep their pets longer.”

And when Felix’s age caught up with her a couple of months later, once again, my boy was there to the end. “I don’t want her to die and me not be there,” he told me, and, true to his word, he held her in his arms as she left this world. He’s mature beyond his young age of 12 (soon to be 13).

Having young men with such good hearts often brings tears to my eyes. Every mother should be so lucky.

I’m also grateful for the years we had with Stark and Felix, and I’m so happy we’ve added a new furbaby to our home, a Husky-German Shepard we’ve named Oscar that we adopted over the summer.

I could go on and on about my family, but you’d probably get bored.

So, I’ll add one more quick thing I’m grateful for: Despite the most lackluster offense in college football, my Iowa Hawkeyes will be playing in the Big Ten Championship Saturday against Michigan. Somehow (mainly with a stellar defense and epic special teams plays) they are 10-2 (some would say 11-1 after a controversial call in the Minnesota game) and champions of the West. Although I know they will likely get beat, I’m still hoping for a miracle. After all, David did slay Goliath Go Hawks!

Tracy’s childhood ornaments.

Now, we are on to the Christmas season. I’ve got one decoration up, a small tree decorated with the ornaments from my childhood. My dad gave it to me last year, along with my mother’s old Christmas village. When she started her collection, I always loved helping her put it up, and about 10 years ago, in her memory, I started my own. These collections bring back a lot of memories, and it’s nice to have another piece of my mom on display this time of year.

I also finally started Christmas/birthday shopping for my younger boy the other day, and, perhaps, this weekend I will get around to filling my house with the spirit of Christmas.